Former U.S. Atty. Debra Wong Yang is reportedly under consideration to lead the SEC

Former U.S. Atty. Debra Wong Yang is reportedly under consideration to lead the SEC
Former U.S. Atty. Debra Wong Yang arrives at Trump Tower in New York City on Monday. (John Angelillo / Pool Photo/European Pressphoto Agency)

Los Angeles lawyer Debra Wong Yang, the former top federal prosecutor for the region, reportedly is being considered by President-elect Donald Trump to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Yang, a fourth-generation Angeleno who grew up in Chinatown, became the first Asian American woman to serve as U.S. attorney in 2002. Then-President George W. Bush tapped her for the position in the Central District of California, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.


A former state judge in California, Yang served as U.S. attorney until 2007.

Her cases involved bringing criminal charges against Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and class-action law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman. She also was instrumental in obtaining guilty pleas in the Credit Lyonnais banking scandal and in getting $1.5 billion in criminal settlements from Boeing Co. and Tenet Healthcare Corp.

After stepping down as U.S. attorney, she joined the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher law firm. Working out of the Los Angeles office, she handles cases involving white-collar crime, corporate compliance, data privacy and matters involving China.

In 2009, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tapped Yang for a seat on the city's Police Commission. She served for 2½ years.

Yang met with Trump at Trump Tower in New York on Monday. NBC News and the Wall Street Journal reported she was under consideration to be nominated to chair the SEC, a job that includes protecting investors and overseeing securities exchanges.

Trump transition officials did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White, also a former federal prosecutor, announced shortly after the election that she intended to step down when President Obama leaves office next month. White has served since 2013.

Trump gets to appoint a new SEC chair along with two other commissioners. Trump said during the campaign he wanted to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which expanded the role of the SEC along with other regulators.

Under a Republican majority, the SEC could loosen regulations on financial firms.

Yang is friends with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and co-hosted a $2,700-a person L.A. fundraiser for his presidential campaign.

Christie, who later dropped out of the 2016 race and endorsed Trump, hired Gibson Dunn to conduct an independent investigation into allegations his administration orchestrated the closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to create a traffic jam to punish a New Jersey mayor who did not endorse Christie's gubernatorial campaign.

Yang was among five former federal prosecutors on the Gibson Dunn investigative team that issued a report exonerating Christie of involvement in what became known as "Bridgegate." Last month, two close Christie associates were found guilty of conspiracy and wire fraud charges in connection with the incident.

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